The lessons I learned in year 27

 Photo by Eva Reyerson

Photo by Eva Reyerson

Year 28 has been off to a good start. My sixth graders sang feliz cumpleaños to me, and I, in turn, celebrated with them by teaching them about the song “Vivir mi vida” (Live my life).

Voy a reír, voy a bailar

vivir mi vida, lalala 

(I’m gonna laugh, I’m gonna dance

[I’m gonna] live my live lalalala)

We sang loudly. And that’s what I want year 28 to bring. Laughter. Dance. Life. 

The truth is, I can’t ignore year 27. I have to make peace with year 27 and all the things it brought. Year 27 marked my return to Saturn. Saturn doesn’t mess with you. Even my Turbo Tax account knew that year 27 had been a difficult year. “It looks like you had a tough year,” read the white screen with bright blue letters. 

This morning, I had a conversation that I’m never going to forget. I’m learning to have important conversations. The kinds of conversations about the things that matter. About the things that ignite a fire in your heart. The things that for years, I was too afraid to talk about. The things that my eyes have seen and the things that my soul has learned. 

In year 27, I learned that we are all going to need grace at some point in our lives. Some of us sooner, others later, but we are all going to hit rock bottom eventually. And when we are knee-deep into the rabbit hole, we’re going to need grace. Bucket-loads of grace to forgive those who hurt us. And even a bigger bucket to ask for forgiveness and be forgiven.

In year 27, I learned that I can build someone up or tear them down with my words alone. I learned that my words can be the only comforting thing that someone might hear in a day -or in a lifetime. I learned that my words need to be chosen carefully, and spoken kindly. 

In year 27, I learned that God talks to us only when we’re ready to hear Him. When the mask falls off and we’re not hiding from ourselves. And He won’t always manifest himself in the form of a burning bush, but I’m convinced that He was the homeless man at the bus stop who taught me about money and self-esteem. He was the lady that bought me breakfast when my bank account hit an all-time low, or the man who brought me freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee one morning. He always chooses the humble of spirit.

In year 27, I came to the painful realization that some people have never been loved. I learned that you can’t expect love from people who don’t know how to love themselves. I learned that people who don’t know how to love themselves have never been loved… I learned that hurt people can’t love others. Hurt people can only hurt others. And they are closer to us than we might think.

In year 27, I learned to love the skin that I’m in. I learned that my body is not just an object for pleasure or visual gratification. My body is the vehicle that allows me to experience the material world. My body is the temple to my soul. And my soul is too big not to value the body that it inhabits. 

In year 27, I finally internalized that we are all going to die. And while we are all going to die, some of us will die without ever appreciating the miracle of life. Some of us will worry more about making a living, keeping up with appearances and playing sorority house for the rest of our lives. Some of us will go through life missing the whole point. 

In year 27, I opened my heart to my own suffering. I let heartbreak hit me good and deep. I experienced big losses and painful rejection. Heartbreak cracked me open. It made me humble.  And it made me dig deep into my own heart to get rid of the things that were weighing me down. 

In year 27, I opened my heart to the suffering of the world. I learned that heartbreak is universal. So is love. And that the answer to every single problem in the world starts with love. And that we have to be that love. It is our job to be the answer. 

Dear year 28, I am your humble student. Teach me how to be a curious one. Teach me how to turn your lessons into meaningful art. Teach me how to love the things that are difficult to love. Teach me to never be too proud to laugh, dance and live. 

Voy a reír, voy a bailar

vivir mi vida, lalala 

(I’m gonna laugh, I’m gonna dance

[I’m gonna] live my life lalalala)